Quiz about Odd and Curious US Money
Quiz about Odd and Curious US Money

Odd and Curious U.S. Money Trivia Quiz


During the over 200 years of its history, the United States has produced a number of coins that are no longer in use. How many of them do you know about? Hope you learn something, and have fun!

A multiple-choice quiz by daver852. Estimated time: 5 mins.
  1. Home
  2. »
  3. Quizzes
  4. »
  5. Hobbies Trivia
  6. »
  7. Coins and Banknotes
  8. »
  9. U.S. Coins & Banknotes

Author
daver852
Time
5 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
379,706
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
7 / 10
Plays
426
Last 3 plays: Guest 76 (8/10), misterpants (8/10), Guest 184 (4/10).
This quiz has 2 formats: you can play it as a or as shown below.
Scroll down to the bottom for the answer key.
1. The first official coins of the United States were minted under the authority of the Coinage Act of 1792. This law established the dollar as the standard unit of American currency; the dollar was further divided into 100 cents and and 1000 milles. What coin was the smallest denomination ever issued by the United States mint? Hint

Five milles
One cent
Half cent
One mille

2. The United States also decided to issue gold coins. The standard gold coin was a piece valued at $10. What was it called? Hint

Turkey
Eagle
Dove
Falcon

3. In 1849, following the discovery of gold in California, the Treasury Department suddenly found itself in possession of large quantities of gold. It was decided to issue two new denominations of gold coins. What were they? Hint

$20 and $50
$1 and $20
$2 and $7.50
$8 and $16

4. In 1851, the mint introduced a new silver coin. It was called a "trime," and was worth how much? Hint

3 cents
7 cents
13 cents
1/3 of a cent

5. In 1854, the mint decided to produce yet another gold coin, one that was again to prove of limited usefulness. What was the denomination this time? Hint

$3
$25
$4
$50

6. The outbreak of the Civil War caused another round of coin hoarding, and coins of all denominations virtually disappeared from circulation, even the lowly one-cent coins. Since coins were not available to pay for small purchases, what took their place? Hint

Postage stamps
Plugs of tobacco
Gold dust
Coffee beans

7. The Civil War and its aftermath had a lot of repercussions for United States coinage. A nickel three-cent piece was introduced in 1865, and a nickel five-cent piece was first minted in 1866; this would eventually replace the silver half dime. Prior to these developments, however, a new denomination was introduced in 1864 in an attempt to ease the shortage of small change. What was it? Hint

Six-cent piece
12 and half-cent piece
Eight-cent piece
Two-cent piece

8. In 1873, in order to placate silver interests and facilitate trade with the Far East, Congress authorized the production of a coin to compete with the Mexican peso in foreign markets. What were these coins called? Hint

China dollars
Trade dollars
American pesos
Export dollars

9. One of the least successful United States coins was a silver piece that lasted only a few years. Minted for circulation only in 1875 and 1876, it was easily mistaken for a quarter (25 cents), and was so unpopular with the public that production was halted after only two years, and large quantities were melted down. What was this short-lived denomination? Hint

20-cent piece
15-cent piece
30-cent piece
40-cent piece

10. In 1892 the United States began issuing commemorative coins, the first being a set of two coins issued in connection with Chicago's Columbian Exposition in 1892 and 1893. In 1915, the mint produced five coins to honor San Francisco's Panama-Pacific International Exposition. What was unusual about one of the gold coins? Hint

The word "Panama" was misspelled
Smallest U.S. gold coin ever produced
First non-round U.S. coin
Featured the portrait of a living person


(Optional) Create a Free FunTrivia ID to save the points you are about to earn:

arrow Select a User ID:
arrow Choose a Password:
arrow Your Email:




Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. The first official coins of the United States were minted under the authority of the Coinage Act of 1792. This law established the dollar as the standard unit of American currency; the dollar was further divided into 100 cents and and 1000 milles. What coin was the smallest denomination ever issued by the United States mint?

Answer: Half cent

The half cent was the smallest denomination ever issued by the United States. The first half cents were struck in 1793, and the coin continued to be issued until 1857. All half cents were struck in pure copper, which meant they did not wear especially well, and they were seldom issued in large quantities. Today, all surviving half cents in collectible condition are scarce and desirable coins.
2. The United States also decided to issue gold coins. The standard gold coin was a piece valued at $10. What was it called?

Answer: Eagle

Beginning in the 1790s, the United States mint began producing quarter eagles ($2.50), half eagles ($5), and eagle ($10) coins. These coins were usually produced in small quantities, partly due to a lack of bullion, but also because the Coinage Act of 1792 dictated that gold was valued to silver at a ratio of 15:1.

This set the value of gold too low in relation to silver. People were reluctant to bring gold to the mint to be turned into coins because they received less than fair value for their bullion.

In addition, since the gold content of the coins exceeded their face value, most early U.S. gold coins were exported and melted down for their gold content. It was not until 1834, when the gold content of U.S. coins was reduced from 91.67% to 89.92%, that U.S. gold coins began to circulate widely. All U.S. gold coins before this date are very rare, since so few have survived.
3. In 1849, following the discovery of gold in California, the Treasury Department suddenly found itself in possession of large quantities of gold. It was decided to issue two new denominations of gold coins. What were they?

Answer: $1 and $20

The $1 gold coins were very tiny and never became popular; most of them were made into jewelry. They were discontinued in 1889, except for a few later commemorative issues that were not meant to circulate. The $20 coins were called "double eagles," and were quite popular.

They were produced in large quantities until 1933, when the production of gold coins for circulation was halted. The more common dates of each of these coins are still quite plentiful, and sell for only a slight premium over their melt value, although some dates are quite rare and valuable.
4. In 1851, the mint introduced a new silver coin. It was called a "trime," and was worth how much?

Answer: 3 cents

Following the discovery of gold in California, the price of gold fell in relation to silver, and people began hoarding their silver coins. This caused a severe shortage of coins needed for commerce. In 1851, the mint responded by producing a three-cent silver coin called the "trime." It was valued at three cents because that was the price of a first class postage stamp.

The Post Office refused to accept copper cents and half cents, and demanded that stamps be paid for in gold or silver coins.

The trime was produced in 75% silver, and its silver value was less than its face value in order to reduce hoarding. The coins were still very small, and were given the derisive nickname of "fish scales." In 1853, the mint lowered the weight of all silver coins to reduce hoarding, and the trime lost much of its usefulness.

It was last minted in 1873.
5. In 1854, the mint decided to produce yet another gold coin, one that was again to prove of limited usefulness. What was the denomination this time?

Answer: $3

The $3 gold coins, like the three cent silver coins, were produced to facilitate the purchase of postage stamps. There was already a $2.50 gold coin in circulation, so the $3 gold coins employed a different design and a thinner, wider planchet to prevent confusion.

The coins proved unpopular, however, and, like the gold $1 coins, were often made into jewelry. There was little demand for the coin, and, except for the first year of issue in 1854, mintages never exceeded 100,000 pieces in any given year, and often only a few thousand pieces were produced. Mintage of the $3 gold coin ceased in 1889.
6. The outbreak of the Civil War caused another round of coin hoarding, and coins of all denominations virtually disappeared from circulation, even the lowly one-cent coins. Since coins were not available to pay for small purchases, what took their place?

Answer: Postage stamps

Congress responded to the coin shortage by passing a law that made postage stamps legal tender for payment of debts up to $5. Since postage stamps were easily damaged when handled, one enterprising entrepreneur invented a brass case with a mica window to hold the stamps, and sold advertising space to merchants on the back of the brass case.

The use of postage stamps as a substitute for coins had its drawbacks. For one thing, it led to a shortage of stamps for use as postage! Some merchants began issuing their own tokens, which were similar in size to the one cent coin, and these circulated widely. The government also issued so-called fractional currency notes in denominations of 3, 5, 10, 15, 25, and 50 cents. Eventually there were enough of these low-value notes (called "shinplasters") in circulation to replace the need for postage stamps to serve as money.
7. The Civil War and its aftermath had a lot of repercussions for United States coinage. A nickel three-cent piece was introduced in 1865, and a nickel five-cent piece was first minted in 1866; this would eventually replace the silver half dime. Prior to these developments, however, a new denomination was introduced in 1864 in an attempt to ease the shortage of small change. What was it?

Answer: Two-cent piece

The Civil War saw the hoarding of coins of all denominations, even the humble penny, or one-cent piece. This had a significant effect on commerce, so Congress reacted to the situation by changing the alloy of the one-cent coin from a copper-nickel alloy to bronze in 1864, and also authorized the production of two-cent coins the same year. The two-cent coin was called by some "the ugliest coin in history," but it served its purpose. Congress authorized one-cent and two-cent coins to be acceptable as legal tender in small quantities to make them more acceptable to the public. The coin was struck for circulation from 1864 through 1872 (a few proof coins were made for collectors in 1873). Today, the two-cent piece is notable for being the first coin to bear the motto "In God We Trust."

One fact I find interesting about this coin and the nickel three-cent piece is that they explain the opening lines of O. Henry's famous short story, "The Gift of the Magi:" "One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies." Some people think this was a mistake (there's no way to make $1.27 with the coins now being produced), but when the story was written in 1906, it is likely that some two-cent and three-cent pieces were still in circulation, making the lines perfectly reasonable.
8. In 1873, in order to placate silver interests and facilitate trade with the Far East, Congress authorized the production of a coin to compete with the Mexican peso in foreign markets. What were these coins called?

Answer: Trade dollars

The idea of a "trade dollar" seemed like a good idea at the time, but it caused nothing but headaches. The American silver dollar was lighter in weight than the Mexican peso, and silver dollars were not readily accepted by Chinese merchants. This meant that businessmen who traded with China had to buy Mexican pesos at a premium. The trade dollar was designed to be the equivalent of the Mexican peso, being a bit heavier and containing more silver than a silver dollar. When first minted, they were legal tender in the United States up to the amount of $5.

While the coin gained some acceptance in China, problems began when large discoveries of silver in the western states caused the price of silver to fall rapidly. Soon the trade dollar contained only about 70 cents worth of silver. Silver miners began taking their bullion to the mint to be made into trade dollars, and other people began buying them at a discount in China, and reimporting them back to the United States. Some unscrupulous businessmen began paying their workers with trade dollars that they had bought at a discount. Merchants in the United States would only accept the coins at a deep discount from their face value. In 1876, the trade dollars were officially demonetized, and in 1878 production of the coins was halted, except for proof coins for collectors (proofs were struck until 1883).

A lot of people were stuck with what were essentially useless trade dollars, so in 1887 Congress authorized a brief period in which the coins could be redeemed. They were made legal tender again by the Coinage Act of 1965. Huge numbers of trade dollars were melted down, so they are fairly scarce today. Many surviving examples bear the "chop marks" of Chinese merchants who tested them to confirm their silver content.
9. One of the least successful United States coins was a silver piece that lasted only a few years. Minted for circulation only in 1875 and 1876, it was easily mistaken for a quarter (25 cents), and was so unpopular with the public that production was halted after only two years, and large quantities were melted down. What was this short-lived denomination?

Answer: 20-cent piece

Base metal coins, such as the nickel, were not popular in the western states, where silver mining was a major industry. When the silver half dime ceased production in 1873, western politicians began a campaign for a coin that would relieve the shortage of small change in the region. The idea that the mint came up with was the 20-cent piece.

Almost from the start, people complained that it was too easy to confuse the 20-cent piece with a quarter. The two coins were almost the same size, and had almost identical obverse designs. The 20-cent piece had a smooth edge, instead of a milled edge, but this feature evidently wasn't enough to prevent prevent confusion. After the first year of production in 1875, only small quantities were produced in 1876, and only proof coins for collectors in 1877 and 1878. The 20-cent piece was officially abolished in 1878. A total of only 1,351,540 20-cent pieces were produced at three mints: Philadelphia, Carson City, and San Francisco. Large quantities were never released for circulation and were melted down. All 20-cent pieces are scarce today.
10. In 1892 the United States began issuing commemorative coins, the first being a set of two coins issued in connection with Chicago's Columbian Exposition in 1892 and 1893. In 1915, the mint produced five coins to honor San Francisco's Panama-Pacific International Exposition. What was unusual about one of the gold coins?

Answer: First non-round U.S. coin

Commemorative coins were usually produced in fairly small quantities and sold at a premium over face value to collectors or those people who wanted a souvenir of the event. The Panama-Pacific set consisted of five coins: a silver half dollar, a gold dollar, a $2.50 quarter eagle, and two $50 gold coins called "half unions." These represent the highest denomination of U.S. coinage ever produced, except for modern bullion coins. The $50 gold pieces came in two varieties, round and octagonal. The octagonal version is the only non-round coin ever produced by the U.S. government.

The coins did not sell well. $50 was a huge amount of money at the time, and only the very wealthy could afford to buy the coins. A total of 483 of the round version, and 645 of the octagonal coins were sold. Today, both the round and octagonal versions are very rare, and sell for very high prices.
Source: Author daver852

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor WesleyCrusher before going online.
Any errors found in FunTrivia content are routinely corrected through our feedback system.
Most Recent Scores
Jan 20 2023 : Guest 76: 8/10
Dec 14 2022 : misterpants: 8/10
Dec 09 2022 : Guest 184: 4/10

Score Distribution

quiz
1/30/2023, Copyright 2023 FunTrivia, Inc. - Report an Error / Contact Us